Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects


  • Jeffrey R Kling,

    1. The Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036, U.S.A. jkling@brookings.eduhttp://www.brookings.edu/scholars/jkling.htm
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  • Jeffrey B Liebman,

    1. John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A lkatz@harvard.edupost.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/katz/katz.html
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  • Lawrence F Katz

    1. Dept. of Economics, Harvard University, Littauer Center, Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A jkling@brookings.eduhttp://www.brookings.edu/scholars/jkling.htm
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    • This paper integrates material previously circulated in Kling and Liebman (2004), Kling, Liebman, Katz, and Sanbonmatsu (2004), and Liebman, Katz, and Kling (2004). Support for this research was provided by grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD), and the National Institute of Mental Health (R01-HD40404 and R01-HD40444), the National Science Foundation (9876337 and 0091854), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the W. T. Grant Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation. Additional support was provided by grants to Princeton University from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and from NICHD (5P30-HD32030 for the Office of Population Research), by the Princeton Industrial Relations Section, the Bendheim–Thomas Center for Research on Child Wellbeing, the Princeton Center for Health and Wellbeing, and the National Bureau of Economic Research. We are grateful to Todd Richardson and Mark Shroder of HUD; to Eric Beecroft, Judie Feins, Barbara Goodson, Robin Jacob, Stephen Kennedy, Larry Orr, and Rhiannon Patterson of Abt Associates; to our collaborators Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Alessandra Del Conte Dickovick, Greg Duncan, Tama Leventhal, Jens Ludwig, Bruce Psaty, Lisa Sanbonmatsu, and Robert Whitaker; to our research assistants Ken Fortson, Jane Garrison, Erin Metcalf, and Josh Meltzer; and to numerous colleagues and three anonymous referees for valuable suggestions. Any findings or conclusions expressed are those of the authors.


Families, primarily female-headed minority households with children, living in high-poverty public housing projects in five U.S. cities were offered housing vouchers by lottery in the Moving to Opportunity program. Four to seven years after random assignment, families offered vouchers lived in safer neighborhoods that had lower poverty rates than those of the control group not offered vouchers. We find no significant overall effects of this intervention on adult economic self-sufficiency or physical health. Mental health benefits of the voucher offers for adults and for female youth were substantial. Beneficial effects for female youth on education, risky behavior, and physical health were offset by adverse effects for male youth. For outcomes that exhibit significant treatment effects, we find, using variation in treatment intensity across voucher types and cities, that the relationship between neighborhood poverty rate and outcomes is approximately linear.